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How do mindfulness-based stress reduction programs work?

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Quick Answer

Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs work by teaching individuals to focus the entire attention on the body and to focus on thoughts but not judge them. These programs also teach yogic breathing and stretching exercises to help strengthen and relax muscles, says WebMD.

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Full Answer

Body attention exercises start with focusing on the feet and then doing a "body scan" up to the head. During the body scan, one looks for any place where pain or tension is held, explains WebMD. The thought exercises involve allowing thoughts and distractions to pass through the mind without dwelling upon them. One notes the thought or feeling and then simply returns the attention to the present moment.

In the beginning, it is common for the mind to wander, states WebMD. This is the reason that mindfulness is a practice. It takes time to learn not to judge thoughts and feeling and to stay in the present moment.

Mindfulness does not imply "zoning out." Instead, it is the practice of purposefully being aware of the surrounding environment, says WebMD. Mindfulness is paying close attention to thoughts, feelings and the body. The important part of this is the aspect of nonjudgment. Dwelling on judgments tends to create a negative feeling. Mindfulness is about letting go of what doesn't help solve the problem.

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